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13 Years After Launch, Here’s Why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is Still the Best Travel Card for Beginners

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In 2009, Chase announced the launch of a new travel rewards credit card — the Chase Sapphire Preferred. More than a decade later, the popular card still carries weight as one of the premier mid-tier travel rewards cards on the market.

Besides earning 3x points on dining (including eligible takeout and delivery services) and 2x points on travel purchases, the card offers elevated earning rates in other bonus categories, including, 5x on all travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on select streaming services and on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs). 

In addition, the Sapphire Preferred card is equipped with additional benefits and travel protections that make it indistinguishably hard to beat for a moderate $95 annual fee. 

In fact, the card’s attributes are so compelling that many would consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred the best starter card for most people looking to accrue valuable travel rewards. 

Let’s ‌look at why the Chase Sapphire Preferred still reigns supreme as the perfect travel rewards card for beginners.

Offer Details

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Annual Fee: $95
Bonus: 60,000 Points
APR: Variable Rate
Rewards Rate: 1X-5X Points
Details: Full Review

Terms and restrictions apply

Offer Terms

Annual Fee: $95

APR: Variable APR depending on credit worthiness.

Rewards Rate: The card offers 5x points per dollar on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining (including eligible takeout and delivery services), as well as 3x points on select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs). This card earns 2x points on all other travel spending and 1x point per dollar everywhere else. Chase broadly defines travel to include not just airfare, hotels and rental cars, but expenses like parking, tolls and public transit too.

Sign-Up Bonus: New applicants can earn 60,000 bonus points after using their card to spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. That’s $750 when redeeming points to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Who Should Use This Credit Card? People who are beginning with travel rewards cards.

Why We Like It

Why We Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred actually works like having over a dozen different rewards credit cards. That’s because this credit card allows you to transfer your rewards points into miles with 11 airlines and points with three hotel programs.

Although the Chase Sapphire Preferred might not be ideal for the most frequent travelers and highest spenders, it’s part of a family of Chase cards that has a built-in upgrade path. So when it comes time to take your travel rewards game to the next level, you won’t have to start from scratch with an entirely different credit card and rewards program.

The card has a $95 annual fee, but the $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit effectively reduces that fee to $45. Plus, the credit card allows you to continue earning points through bonus categories and a 10% anniversary points boost. But when it comes time to redeem your rewards for travel, this card really shines. You can take advantage of some really strong transfer partners such as United, Southwest, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Hyatt. Similarly, you can just book any reservation you want through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel center.

A Generous Welcome Offer 

Marriott vacation

For starters, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card offers a generous sign-up bonus. New cardholders can earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. 

Our points and miles guide values Chase Ultimate Rewards points at an average of 2.2 cents per dollar when redeemed for travel. That means the card’s sign-up bonus could potentially be worth $1,320 (or much more) if you can find a strategic way to transfer your points to one of Chase’s 14 impressive transfer partners. 

If you prefer a simple approach to redeeming points, you can book travel directly through Chase Ultimate Rewards — making your 60,000-point bonus worth a redemption value of $750.

Regardless of which method you prefer, the Chase Sapphire PreferredⓇ card’s current bonus offer easily outweighs the card’s annual fee.

Lucrative Earning Rates 

lyft driver picking up passenger

The Chase Sapphire PreferredⓇ now offers more ways to earn bonus points on popular spend categories than in years past. 

Cardholders can expect to earn the following rates per dollar spent on these categories:

  • 5x on all travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 5x on Lyft through March 31, 2025
  • 3x on dining (including eligible delivery services and takeout)
  • 3x on select streaming services
  • 3x on online grocery purchases (not including Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • 2x on general travel purchases (not through the Ultimate Rewards portal)
  • 1x on all other purchases

As you can see, the card’s earning rates make it a lucrative option for folks looking to earn and redeem points for travel. Besides the multitude of ways to earn bonus points, Chase has a broad definition of what constitutes “travel purchases.” Here is how Chase defines it:

Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds, and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis and limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages. 

That means you can earn 2x on common travel expenses such as airfare and hotels, as well as some uncommon categories that normally don’t earn bonus points, such as tolls, parking garage fees, and commuter trains.

Plus, by earning 3x on dining out, online groceries (such as Instacart), and on streaming services and 2x on all travel purchases outside of booking through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and cardholders can easily rack up thousands of miles each year on everyday purchases. And best of all, there are no foreign transaction fees to worry about. Therefore, you can earn bonus points on these categories while you’re traveling abroad.

If the Chase Sapphire PreferredⓇ wasn’t packing enough value already, each account anniversary, cardmembers will earn bonus points equal to 10% of total purchases made the previous year. For example, if you make $20,000 in purchases in a given year, Chase will put 2,000 bonus points back into your account. Per our valuation of Chase Ultimate Rewards, that’s a return of $44 worth of points.

High-Value Redemptions

There is one way to get the most bang for your buck from your points, and that’s by utilizing some of Chase’s 14 travel partners and transferring points to one of them when it makes sense to do so. All of Chase’s partners have a transfer ratio of 1:1. 

Here is the list of Chase’s 11 airline and 3 hotel transfer partners:

Transfer Partners 

Aer Lingus over Ireland cliffs
Aer Lingus
  • Aer Lingus
  • Air Canada
  • Air France-KLM 
  • British Airways 
  • Emirates 
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue
  • Singapore
  • Southwest 
  • United 
  • Virgin Atlantic 
  • Hyatt
  • InterContinental Hotels Group
  • Marriott

Chase is well-recognized for partnering with several high-value transfer partners. Your points can take you across the Atlantic in business class or cover a stay at a high-end all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean. The high-value transfer redemption possibilities are endless.

If you prefer quantity over quality, the 60,000-point sign-up bonus alone can cover two roundtrip economy tickets to Hawaii from the West Coast, and still leave you with 8,000 points left over.  By transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to the British Airways Executive Club loyalty program, you can fly American Airlines or Alaska Airlines to Hawaii for only 26,000 Avios round-trip per person. 

Want more domestic flight options? You can also transfer points to Southwest Airlines and book tickets for the whole family to jumpstart your next vacation.

Transfer partners vary greatly from one another. While certain programs tend to offer lower value, others make it simple to obtain outstanding value from your points. Read our guide to 10 high-value travel redemption suggestions with 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Ultimate Rewards points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred can also be redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal at a value of 1.25 cents per point or you can use points for cash back, gift cards or Amazon purchases at a less-than-desirable 0.8 to 1 cent per point value. However, if you want bigger value from your points, stick to the transfer option.

Bottom Line

There is little doubt that the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is one of the most recognizable travel cards by name. And rightfully so, the card has earned a glowing reputation due to its impressive earning rates, valuable transfer partners, and additional benefits that distinguish it from the competition. As a starter card for those looking to jump headfirst into travel rewards, there may not be a better option out there than the Chase Sapphire PreferredⓇ. 

Official application link: Apply here for the Chase Sapphire Preferred with a 60,000 point bonus.

While we work hard on our research, we do not always provide a complete listing of all available offers from credit-card companies and banks. And because offers can change, we cannot guarantee that our information will always be up to date, so we encourage you to verify all the terms and conditions of any financial product before you apply.

Juan Ruiz
Juan Ruiz
Juan has been writing and editing stories involving credit cards, loyalty programs, travel, and personal finance topics for more than 10 years. In addition to working and contributing to a number of outlets including The Points Guy, Forbes, and Business Insider, Juan was recently the editor-in-chief at Money Under 30, where he led a team of personal finance journalists. He is also an adjunct professor at Florida International University and a licensed real estate professional.

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